I graduated from school during a deep recession. Armed with an undergraduate degree in psychology, I didn’t have readily apparent job skills. After a long and daunting job search, which took place using an old-fashioned typewriter, envelopes, stamps, and bus rides all over Massachusetts, I secured a job at a junior college in Boston. My adult children are very tired of hearing about my travails, but that search and resulting job left a lasting impression on me.
My first professional job was a great fit! I was able to work with junior college students and help them plan their future careers. I was able to work with employers and help them find great workers, and I was able to teach a class that I had taken as an undergraduate. That was not all – the environment I worked in was vibrant, and most of all caring.
My new colleagues invited me to lunch and then to their homes. My new friend Karin greeted me every morning. Ruth always had a listening shoulder. Jon teased me mercilessly and created so much humor that many days I laughed until I cried. There was ever-smiling Debbie, and also Maria, who was older and wiser and shared so much wisdom with me. And then there was Nancy. Nancy was my manager and she ensured that I felt welcome and a part of the team from the outset.
In our new virtual work, where our colleagues are dispersed all over the area and oftentimes all over the world, do you take the time to welcome the first timers? Do you send a text or a card when a colleague is ill or is struggling with a family member? And if you are back in an office, do you go to lunch with the newbie? Do you take the time to welcome them and spend a few minutes learning about them?
Here are my friends from my first professional job in Massachusetts. Even though none of us have worked together in over three decades, we gathered last week for dinner in Boston. This group was my support system and they encouraged and inspired me. Are you that person for someone else? Be the reason someone new feels welcomed and included. Pass it on.
Many businesses are finding new hiring challenges with a shrinking labor pool to draw from. And so, I have been working with my clients to help them strengthen their hiring practices in order to attract the very best candidates. Large companies have their name recognition, great benefits, and often more competitive salaries, so what do mid-sized and smaller companies have to offer? Smaller companies can offer their size as a selling point to potential applicants, and below I have listed some of the benefits. They are numerous and detailed, so feel free to visit my website for a more robust discussion.
More interconnection with colleagues. The opportunity to experience a 360-degree view of company-wide operations and gain skills in multiple areas of expertise. Involvement in new things and a variety of assignments.
Interactions with C-suite decision-makers to learn firsthand from their experience. Access to people who matter to showcase your abilities. A chance to build valuable relationships and job skills.
Closer work relationships with executives. A chance to make a direct impact, take on more responsibility, and have your hard work noticed.
More teamwork and collaboration with colleagues.
Leaders with outside-the-box ideas for how to engage team members and create a pleasant work environment.
Autonomy in your work. Simpler reporting structures, with less red tape and protocol. Projects completed more quickly and with less frustration.
Closer personal relationships with coworkers. Visibility when you produce good work. The knowledge that you and your efforts matter.
Business decisions made with employees in mind. Company-wide creative risks with strategies. Requests for input from lower-level staffers.
Desired and beneficial workplace culture developed, promoted, and implemented more quickly.
Appreciation for your efforts, reported to be experienced more often in smaller organizations.
More creative and customizable fringe benefits.
Can you think of other perks of working for a small or medium sized company? Please share with me, especially if you have firsthand experiences.
I used to bake bread for our family, specifically Challah, about once a month. We didn’t celebrate the sabbath in our home every week, but our family knew that when they smelled the aromatic Challah, we would be having a “formal” dinner. They could expect that everyone would sit at the table, engage in active conversation, and be a loving family for at least 30 minutes.
Bloomberg posted this article in April:
My big takeaway from the article is this:
The important lesson that employers learned from Covid is that companies are more than just “nexuses of contacts,” as Michael Jensen and William Meckling put it in 1976. They are social organizations that are in the business of transmitting unique cultures. In fact, the word “company” is comprised of two Latin words “com” and “pane,” meaning breaking bread together. When it comes to passing on the tricks of the trade, generating a sense of camaraderie, or solving collective problems, there is nothing better than sharing the same space.
Whether your organization never stopped meeting on site, you have gone fully virtual, or you started a new hybrid model, when you are together don’t overlook time to break bread. If you are a senior leader, meet with all of your direct reports at least once a month. Get to know each other as people, refrain from always discussing job responsibilities, and just talk as two people about your lives outside of work. If you are a department head, bring your remote employees together at least quarterly, and be sure to throw some fun into the mix while you are all together. If you are an employee seeking connection, try starting a company-sponsored pickleball or bowling team.
And when you are in my area, please let me know and I will make Challah and share a meal with you. My husband loves meeting my work family, and we have plenty of room around our table. Remember that the root words of “company” are about breaking bread together. When will you next break bread with your work family?